Europe's top sides handed straightforward routes to Qatar 2022

RESENDING WITH COMPLETE SCRIPT

VIDEO SHOWS: COMMENTS FROM FRANCE COACH, DIDIER DESCHAMPS, BELGIUM COACH, ROBERTO MARTINEZ, PORTUGAL COACH, FERNANDO SANTOS, SPAIN COACH, LUIS ENRIQUE, AND ENGLAND'S GARETH SOUTHGATE, STILL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE EUROPEAN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING DRAW, FILE FOOTAGE OF 2022 QATAR WORLD CUP STADIUMS, FILE FOOTAGE OF QATAR, FILE FOOTAGE OF FRANCE CELEBRATING AFTER WINNING THE 2018 WORLD CUP

SHOWS:

PARIS, FRANCE (DECEMBER 7, 2020) (FFF - MUST ON-SCREEN COURTESY "FFF")

1. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRANCE COACH, DIDIER DESCHAMPS, SAYING:

"I'm not going to jump for joy up to the ceiling regarding the draw. We always have to have enough humility and respect to all these teams. Of course, as the defending winner, France is the favourite, but we need to do all that's necessary in the field to reach this goal of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup."

2. JOURNALIST ASKING QUESTION

3. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRANCE COACH, DIDIER DESCHAMPS, SAYING:

"Listen, of course Ukraine and Finland seem to be more armed than Kazakhstan and Bosnia in their position within the group, even though, well, we haven't met the ideal team for Ukraine. They lost their last match in the field, but of course this team is currently progressing."

4. JOURNALIST ASKING QUESTION

5. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRANCE COACH, DIDIER DESCHAMPS, SAYING:

"With regard to Ukraine especially, I don't think we'll face the same team we met this autumn after the problems they had in relation to COVID-19. For Finland, we've lived through it, it wasn't a good memory. It was very good for the start of my run as head coach, we had our first victory there, at 1-0, during the qualifiers phase for the 2014 World Cup."

6. DESCHAMPS GIVING THUMBS-UP, LEAVING AFTER NEWS CONFERENCE

MOSCOW, RUSSIA (FILE - JULY 15, 2018) (REUTERS PICTURES - ACCESS ALL) (MUTE)

7. TWO STILL PHOTOGRAPHS OF FRANCE WITH WORLD CUP TROPHY

8. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF KYLIAN MBAPPE WITH WORLD CUP

PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - JULY 16, 2018) (AGENCY POOL - ACCESS ALL)

9. CAPTAIN OF FRENCH NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM HUGO LLORIS ARRIVING WITH WORLD CUP TROPHY

10. VARIOUS OF MACRON AND PLAYERS STANDING ON STEPS OF ELYSEE

TUBIZE, BELGIUM (DECEMBER 7, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

11. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BELGIUM COACH, ROBERTO MARTINEZ, SAYING:

"These are very exciting times. We were here a few days ago for the final four (of the Nations League). That means we've now got eight games in three camps. So, I think the intensity we're going to have a lot of games, hopefully with fans, with the Red Devils fans in the ground. We've got really good games. Looking forward to facing Belarus for the first time. We've faced Wales in the past and we know how competitive they are and the wonderful stadiums that they have in that part of the world and it's always good to see Estonia back. We saw them in the qualification for 2018 (World Cup) and Czech Republic that is always competitive games. So, it's a really exciting time; eight games, three camps, 2021 with the final four (of the Nations League) and the qualification for the World Cup."

12. NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS

13. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BELGIUM COACH, ROBERTO MARTINEZ, SAYING:

"I started as a manager in 2007 in Swansea and we got really good relationships left there and we all remember the Welsh derbies and I know the passion that there is in Welsh people towards football and the national team. So, it will be a fantastic occasion to go back and enjoy football from that point of view but as you can imagine I think there is a really good feeling around the Welsh squad. I think Ryan Giggs is working towards the future and he's already got a really competitive team in the present so it will be a difficult game on the pitch but a beautiful game to prepare from an emotional point of view."

OEIRAS, PORTUGAL (DECEMBER 7, 2020) (CANAL 11- ACCESS ALL)

14. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) PORTUGAL COACH, FERNANDO SANTOS, SAYING:

"Portugal goes into this competition as I said before and I keep saying as a candidate to be the world champion and if we assume this, we will have to go through to the group stage."

15. WHITE FLASH

16. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) PORTUGAL COACH, FERNANDO SANTOS, SAYING:

"We will have to respect all our opponents because thinking that we already had this won would be our biggest mistake, respect our opponents but with confidence that we have in reality capacity to go through."

17. WHITE FLASH

18. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) PORTUGAL COACH, FERNANDO SANTOS, SAYING:

"The Serbian team - like Portugal - in these countries there are always new players appearing with great quality and in the Serbian team there's also players appearing with great quality so we will see. It's an opponent like all the others we have much respect for but we continue to believe Portugal is better."

MADRID, SPAIN (DECEMBER 7, 2020) (SPANISH FOOTBALL FEDERATION HANDOUT - ACCESS ALL)

19. VARIOUS OF SPAIN COACH, LUIS ENRIQUE WATCHING THE DRAW FOR THE 2022 WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS WITH MEMBERS OF HIS STAFF

20. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SPAIN'S HEAD COACH, LUIS ENRIQUE, SAYING:

"It is a normal draw, it could have been with any other team as there are lots of very big teams, some that we don't know and others that we know already."

21. VARIOUS OF LUIS ENRIQUE WATCHING THE DRAW

22. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SPAIN'S HEAD COACH, LUIS ENRIQUE, SAYING:

"I don't think they (Sweden) nor we are very happy about it, but between all the teams, there were many of them with whom we had already played against in these past two years. We got Sweden, we accept the challenge, it will be difficult, as we have already experienced in other games, but we will go back to Sweden."

BURTON UPON TRENT, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (DECEMBER 7, 2020) (FATV - ACCESS ALL)

23. WHITE FLASH

24. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENGLAND MANAGER, GARETH SOUTHGATE, SAYING:

"Poland are obviously a very good side. Hungary just got promoted into the Nations league top division so those two in particular are going to be games that we know will be tough and the rest are always games whenever I've played for England or managed England complicated games to navigate. So, yes inevitably it will be about what we do but some exciting… you know, Poland at Wembley and Poland in Poland I mean there's a great history of that fixture. There was a spell when we'd seem to draw them every time wasn't there over the years. So, a couple of good historic fixtures with the Hungarians as well."

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND (DECEMBER 7, 2020) (FIFA HANDOUT - NO ARCHIVE NO RESALES) (MUTE)

25. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF WOMAN WEARING MASK PLACING WORLD CUP TROPHY ON STAGE AHEAD OF THE 2022 DRAW

26. TWO STILL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE WORLD CUP TROPHY ON DISPLAY

27. TWO STILL PHOTOGRAPHS OF FIFA PRESIDENT, GIANNI INFANTINO GESTURING WHILE TALKING

28. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF THE DRAW CEREMONY IN PROGRESS

29. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF RAFAEL VAN DER VAART (RIGHT) AND DANIELE DE ROSSI (LEFT) WITH FIFA DIRECTOR OF TOURNAMENTS JAIME YARZA DURING THE DRAW

30. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF THE TROPHY NEXT TO ONE OF THE POTS

31. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DE ROSSI DRAWING FRANCE

32. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DE ROSSI DRAWING SPAIN

33. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DE ROSSI DRAWING ENGLAND

34. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DE ROSSI DRAWING ITALY

35. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DE ROSSI DRAWING GERMANY

36. STILL PHOTOGRAPH OF DE ROSSI DRAWING BELGIUM

DOHA QATAR (FILE) (SC 2022 - FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE) (MUTE)

37. WORLD CUP TROPHY IN EDUCATION CITY STADIUM

DOHA, QATAR (FILE) (SC 2022 - FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE)

38. KHALIFA INTERNATIONAL STADIUM IN DAYLIGHT

39. KHALIFA INTERNATIONAL STADIUM AT NIGHT

AL WAKRAH, QATAR (FILE) (SC 2022 - FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE)

40. VARIOUS OF AL WAKRAH STADIUM

41. FIREWORKS OVER AL WAKRAH STADIUM

AL KHOR, QATAR (OCTOBER 7, 2020) (SC - FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE)

42. FIFA PRESIDENT, GIANNI INFANTINO ENTERING AL BAYT STADIUM

43. INFANTINO INSPECTING LUXURY SUITE

44. INFANTINO LOOKING OUT ONTO FIELD

45. INFANTINO SPEAKING WITH ORGANISERS FROM LUXURY SUITE

46. AERIAL OF AL BAYT STADIUM WHICH WAS DESIGNED TO LOOK LIKE A TRADITIONAL ARAB TENT

DOHA, QATAR (FILE) (SC 2022 - FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE)

47. KHALIFA INTERNATIONAL STADIUM

AL WAKRAH, QATAR (FILE) (SC 2022 - FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE) (MUTE)

48. VARIOUS OF AL WAKRAH STADIUM

49. FIREWORKS OVER AL WAKRAH STADIUM

AL RAYYAN, QATAR (FILE) (SC 2022 - FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE) (MUTE)

50. VARIOUS OF AL RAYYAN STADIUM

DOHA, QATAR (FILE) (SC 2022 - FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE.) (MUTE)

51. VARIOUS OF AL THUMAMA STADIUM, WITH CONSTRUCTION CRANE

52. EXTERIOR OF QATAR FOUNDATION STADIUM

53. VARIOUS AERIALS OF QATAR FOUNDATION STADIUM PITCH

54. VARIOUS OF QATAR FOUNDATION STADIUM AT NIGHT WITH LIGHTS

LUSAIL, QATAR (FILE) (SC 2022 - FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE.) (MUTE)

55. VARIOUS NIGHT-TIME AERIALS OF THE LUSAIL ICONIC STADIUM WHICH IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION

56. DAWN AERIAL OF LUSAIL ICONIC STADIUM UNDER CONSTRUCTION

57. AERIAL OF LUSAIL ICONIC STADIUM SHOWING PITCH UNDER CONSTRUCTION

58. AERIAL OF LUSAIL ICONIC STADIUM UNDER CONSTRUCTION

DOHA, QATAR (FILE - DECEMBER 18, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

59. DOHA SKYLINE

60. VARIOUS OF WOODEN BOATS IN HARBOUR

61. VARIOUS OF CAMELS WITH THEIR CAMEL TRADERS

DOHA, QATAR (FILE - DECEMBER 19, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

62. VARIOUS OF FANS DRINKING BEER IN CLUB WORLD CUP FAN ZONE (THREE SHOTS)

63. FANS WALKING THROUGH FAN ZONE

64. FANS IN ARAB DRESS DANCING IN FRONT OF CAMERA

65. FANS DRINKING BEER IN FAN ZONE

DOHA, QATAR (FILE - SEPTEMBER, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

66. VARIOUS OF DOHA SKYLINE AT NIGHT

STORY: Europe's top sides all appear set for straightforward routes to the 2022 World Cup after being placed in comfortable groups in the draw made at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Monday (December 7).

Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Croatia and England all avoided each other thanks to the seeding system and, barring major upsets, should qualify comfortably for the tournament in Qatar.

Instead, the main excitement is likely to be the scramble among the middle-ranking teams to finish second in their groups and qualify for the play-offs.

Under a revised format, the 10 group winners qualify directly for Qatar while the runners-up go into a play-off system along with the best two teams from the Nations League, a separate competition.

Those 12 teams will be divided into three paths of four, with the winners of each also going to Qatar. The group stage will be played between March and November next year with the play-offs in March 2022.

World champions France were drawn in Group D alongside Ukraine -- a side they recently beat 7-1 in a friendly -- Finland, Bosnia and Kazakhstan in European Group D.

Old rivals England and Poland will face each other again as they were placed in Group I along with Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino.

Spain must get past Sweden, who qualified for the 2018 World Cup at the expense of Italy, in Group B, although even if they finish second, they will still have another bite of the cherry in the play-offs. Greece, Georgia and Kosovo are the other teams in that group.

Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal, the current European champions, must face Serbia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan in Group A while Belgium meet Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia in Group E.

Even off-colour Germany should be able to get through Group J where their opponents are Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia and Liechtenstein.

Group F appeared to be the most evenly-balanced group featuring Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands and Moldova.

(Production: Tim Hart, Miguel Pereira, May Ponzo, Ardee Napolitano)

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